Monday, January 01, 2007

Two Tech Problems, simply solved.

Case One: The Mysterious Beeping Printer

So I get assigned at work to make a field-visit. The issue was one of our network laser printers was beeping periodically and no effort or troubleshooting by the other technicians could resolve the matter. I was the escalated response before making a call to our contract vendor ($$$).

I arrived on site and upon walking into the room did indeed hear a curious beeping. It repeated once every few minutes. I went through the laser printer's menu configuration. This model does have a speaker for error beeps, but we usually turn it off by a default setup. Everything looked good in the menu system settings and the LCD display on the front didn't show an error code.

It was printing fine otherwise, but had been beeping now for several days.

I checked for other sources--like the user's digital alarm clock, etc. in her area, but the printer was away from any other electronic devices--even cheap ones.

So I was just squatting down in front of it, trying to make up my mind on placing a service call to our vendor when it beeped again. Ahhh!

I reached up to the out-basket tray hung on the cubicle wall directly beside it and snatched up a bulky sealed manilla folder. Asking permission from the user to open it, I proceeded to dump a new pager out onto the user's desk--dramatically of course.

She just looked at me puzzled until the pager went off with the now-identified beep.

"OH!!! We were going to mail that out to the owner this week! Are they getting a page already?"

Case solved. State taxpayers money saved.

Word to the wise--turn off all pagers before putting them in a sealed envelope to mail.

Case Two: Simple Encrypted File Transmissions

The corporation where Lavie works is an international company. Often they must send some electronic documents out for translation.

Lavie realized that sending certain unencrypted documents outside of the corporate email network to their translator might be dangerous and suggested they consider looking at encrypted email solutions.

Well...turns out that was a brilliant suggestion that went no-where. Attempts by the managers to set up an encrypted emailing systems between in-house users and a third party on a different email server network were going to be a bit complicated...meanwhile the document attachments continued to fly unencrypted.

Lavie asked me for solution ideas.

I suggested she consider using a file encryption program that was shared by the third-party translator. She could drag and drop the document to encrypt it with a strong password. Then email the encrypted document in the clear to the other party. Then that person--knowing the same strong password could turn and decrypt it. Resending it back when done in the same way again.

Because the body of the email wouldn't include any confidential information, just the attachment needed to be encrypted.

I suggested they experiment with the following file encryption utilities (all freeware!):

Drag'n'Crypt ULTRA

omziff - secure encryption software

Batson Computer Services FreeCrypt

DS Software's dsCrypt

Blowfish Advanced CS - A long-time personal favorite utility of mine--also does free-space wipes and secure file deletions.

Related Utilities

TrueCrypt - creates a virtual encrypted disk within file and mounts as a real disk drive. Indispensable for USB drive users.

KeePass Password Safe - another program I don't leave home without!

Lavie will have to share the common password they use with her manager and IT staff to ensure things are on the "up and up" -- some corporations get nervous seeing encrypted files on their network -- but otherwise it is a simple and elegant solution to encrypted file sharing between parties on two different networks and avoids some of the configuration and setup issues of PGP Encryption solutions.

See you in the skies...


1 comment:

Ray said...

Hey Claus, I just found a great little program that does all that in one.

Check out